May 22

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Quotes of the day from previous years:

The way I see it, if you want the rainbow you gotta be willing to put up with the rain. ~ Dolly Parton
The highest morality may prove also to be the highest wisdom when the half-told story comes to be finished. ~ Arthur Conan Doyle (born 22 May 1859)
A little Learning is a dang'rous Thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring:
There shallow Draughts intoxicate the Brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.

~ Alexander Pope (The date of Pope's birth was not definite when this was proposed for QOTD; he is said to have been born 22 May 1688, in The Life of Pope (1781) by Samuel Johnson, but apparently this was an error, for 21 May seems to have become the most widely accepted date.)
I should dearly love that the world should be ever so little better for my presence. Even on this small stage we have our two sides, and something might be done by throwing all one's weight on the scale of breadth, tolerance, charity, temperance, peace, and kindliness to man and beast. We can't all strike very big blows, and even the little ones count for something. ~ Arthur Conan Doyle
Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself; but talent instantly recognizes genius. ~ Arthur Conan Doyle
Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really mere commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs, and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chains of events, working through generations, and leading to the most outre results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable. ~ Arthur Conan Doyle in "A Case of Identity"
The more we progress the more we tend to progress. We advance not in arithmetical but in geometrical progression. We draw compound interest on the whole capital of knowledge and virtue which has been accumulated since the dawning of time. ~ Arthur Conan Doyle

How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

Arthur Conan Doyle in The Sign of the Four

I will make my meaning more clear when I say that I think right and wrong are both tools which are being wielded by those great hands which are shaping the destinies of the universe, that both are making for improvement; but that the action of the one is immediate, and that of the other more slow, but none the less certain. Our own distinction of right and wrong is founded too much upon the immediate convenience of the community, and does not inquire sufficiently deeply into the ultimate effect.
~ Arthur Conan Doyle ~
I am not the law, but I represent justice so far as my feeble powers go.
~ Arthur Conan Doyle ~
~The Adventure of the Three Gables ~
My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don't know.
~ Arthur Conan Doyle ~
It was easier to know it than to explain why I know it. If you were asked to prove that two and two made four, you might find some difficulty, and yet you are quite sure of the fact.
~ Arthur Conan Doyle ~
~ A Study in Scarlet ~
The ancient intuition that all matter, allreality,” is energy, that all phenomena, including time and space, are mere crystallizations of mind, is an idea with which few physicists have quarreled since the theory of relativity first called into question the separate identities of energy and matter. Today most scientists would agree with the ancient Hindus that nothing exists or is destroyed, things merely change shape or form; that matter is insubstantial in origin, a temporary aggregate of the pervasive energy that animates the electron. … The cosmic radiation that is thought to come from the explosion of creation strikes the earth with equal intensity from all directions, which suggests either that the earth is at the center of the universe, as in our innocence we once supposed, or that the known universe has no center. Such an idea holds no terror for mystics; in the mystical vision, the universe, its center, and its origins are simultaneous, all around us, all within us, and all One.
~ Peter Matthiessen ~
When we are mired in the relative world, never lifting our gaze to the mystery, our life is stunted, incomplete; we are filled with yearning for that paradise that is lost when, as young children, we replace it with words and ideas and abstractions — such as merit, such as past, present, and future — our direct, spontaneous experience of the thing itself, in the beauty and precision of this present moment. We identify, label, and interpret our surroundings as abstract concepts, quite separate from another concept, which is our own separate identity and ego.
~ Peter Matthiessen ~
The progress of the sciences toward theories of fundamental unity, cosmic symmetry (as in the unified field theory) — how do such theories differ, in the end, from that unity which Plato called “unspeakable” and “indiscribable,” the holistic knowledge shared by so many peoples of the earth, Christians included, before the advent of the industrial revolution made new barbarians of the peoples of the West? In the United States, before spiritualist foolishness at the end of the last century confused mysticism with “the occult” and tarnished both, William James wrote a master work of metaphysics; Emerson spoke of “the wise silence, the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related, the eternal One . . .”; Melville referred to “that profound silence, that only voice of God”; Walt Whitman celebrated the most ancient secret, that no God could be found “more divine than yourself.” And then, almost everywhere, a clear and subtle illumination that lent magnificence to life and peace to death was overwhelmed in the hard glare of technology. Yet that light is always present, like the stars of noon. Man must perceive it if he is to transcend his fear of meaningless, for no amount of “progress” can take its place.
~ Peter Matthiessen ~
Amazingly, we take for granted that instinct for survival, fear of death, must separate us from the happiness of pure and uninterpreted experience, in which body, mind, and nature are the same. And this debasement of our vision, the retreat from wonder, the backing away like lobsters into safe crannies, the desperate instinct that our life passes unlived, is reflected in proliferation without joy, corrosive money rot, the gross befouling of the earth and air and water from which we came.
~ Peter Matthiessen ~
To glimpse one’s own true nature is a kind of homegoing, to a place East of the Sun, West of the Moon — the homegoing that needs no home, like that waterfall on the upper Suli Gad that turns to mist before touching the earth and rises once again into the sky.
~ Peter Matthiessen ~
There’s a creation, a creating force. But whatever it is is in everything we see. It’s in that log, in that stone. It’s just the power. And I’ve had many experiences with it. Certain circumstances bring it out, which all the mystics know. That is part of our Zen training too. It’s called an "opening." … For a second, you see what the world is. It is a whole other way of seeing, which is horrible, terrifying, and extraordinary and a great blessing to have.
~ Peter Matthiessen ~
I have often tried to isolate that quality of "Zen" which attracted me so powerfully to its literature and later to the practice of zazen. But since the essence of Zen might well be what one teacher called "the moment-by-moment awakening of mind," there is little that may sensibly be said about it without succumbing to that breathless, mystery-ridden prose that drives so many sincere aspirants in the other direction. In zazen, one may hope to penetrate the ringing stillness of universal mind, and this "intimation of immortality," as Wordsworth called it, also shines forth from the brief, cryptic Zen texts, which refer obliquely to that absolute reality beyond the grasp of our linear vocabulary, yet right here in this moment, in this ink and paper, in the sound of this hand turning the page.
~ Peter Matthiessen ~
We need to unite and make Russia the last aggressor. So that only peace reigns after the defeat of its invasion of Ukraine.
We, people, have different cultures, different views, different national flags. But we equally want security for ourselves, our children and grandchildren. And our lives are equally burned to ashes if, God forbid, war comes.
Everyone in the world must do everything possible to ensure that wars leave only shadows on the stones of history and that this can only be seen in museums.
Everyone in the world must respect other nations.
Everyone in the world must recognize state borders.
Everyone in the world must defend justice.
Everyone in the world must care about life.
Everyone in the world must take peace as their duty.
~ Volodymyr Zelenskyy ~
  • proposed by Kalki; recent remarks at G7 summit in Hiroshima.
  A Mahayana teaching with a strong Taoist infusion, Ch'an or Zen cast off the dead weight of priestly ritual and mindless chanting of the sutras or scriptures — the records of the Buddha's teachings — and returned to the simple zazen way of Shakyamuni. In a statement attributed to the First Chinese Patriarch, Bodhidharma, an old monk from India who is loosely associated with the birth of Zen, the new teaching was described as "a special transmission outside the scriptures, not founded upon words or letters. By pointing directly to man's own mind, it lets him see into his own true nature and thus attain Buddhahood."
~ Peter Matthiessen ~
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Soon the child’s clear eye is clouded over by ideas and opinions, preconceptions, and abstractions. Simple free being becomes encrusted with the burdensome armor of the ego. Not until years later does an instinct come that a vital sense of mystery has been withdrawn. The sun glints through the pines and the heart is pierced in a moment of beauty and strange pain, like a memory of paradise. After that day, we become seekers. ~ Peter Matthiessen (dob: 1927 May 22) (goodreads quotes)

And only the enlightened can recall their former lives; for the rest of us, the memories of past existences are but glints of light, twinges of longing, passing shadows, disturbingly familiar, that are gone before they can be grasped, like the passage of that silver bird on Dhaulagiri. ~ Peter Matthiessen (dob: 1927 May 22) (goodreads quotes)

The glee of it. The ecstasy of It. I can't speak about this It because I know no word. It is just there, It is always there, like death in life. In this instant I know that something terrible is rising that must be seized and turned back upon itself before it twists outward into violence. But that knowing always comes too late, a wild unraveling is under way and I am caught up in it like a coyote seen late one afternoon in an Arkansas tornado-a toy dog spinning skyward, struck white by a ray of sun against black clouds, then black, then white, then gone and lost forever. The wind dies. A dead stillness. Mirror water. That ecstasy that shivered every nerve replaced by the precise knowing that what this self perpetrated is as much a part of the universal will as erupting lava that subsides once more into the inner earth. ~ Peter Matthiessen (dob: 1927 May 22) (goodreads quotes)